It’s absolutely incredible. With just about every single pick, even the senior signs, with the Rays have made some type of play for upside. This pick features a ton of that.
With their 39th round selection, the Rays drafted Geoff Rowan, a 5’9″, 190 senior catcher out of Northwestern. In 2012, Rowan posted just a .291/.341/.333 line with 7 doubles, no homers, and 17 RBI. He struck out 22 compared to just 8 walks. Defensively he threw out 48.1% of attempted basestealers but made 6 errors and allowed 5 passed balls. There are clearly big flaws in Rowan’s game. But he has the ability to resolve them.
Rowan shows good bat speed but has a lot of moving parts in his swing, throwing off his timing too often. At times he shows some nice lift in his swing and hits for nice power, but that happens way too sporadically. In fact, he hit just 1 homer in four years at Northwestern. By the end of his time there he had stopped trying to undercut the ball at all and become a tap hitter. Another problem for Rowan is that he so little plate discipline and still doesn’t make a ton of contact. Rowan probably needs to start his approach at the plate from scratch. He has some tools but has failed to take advantage of them thus far.
Defensively, Rowan’s arm strength is outstanding but his accuracy is erratic. Sometimes he rushes his throws, something he really doesn’t have to do because of his arm strength. Defensively, his receiving ability needs some work but he moves perfectly well behind the plate and most of his struggles may be as a result of him thinking a little too much about his offense. He should be a good defensive catcher based on his abilities, but he has to execute.
Rowan, if everything comes together, still has a chance to be a solid big league starting catcher. That’s unlikely to happen but the Rays hope that they can restore some of his abilities and possibly get a productive player. Rowan had a tough four years at Northwestern. But he still has talent that’s waiting to be tapped into and the Rays hope that he can turn his play around in pro ball.